World Malaria Day: Early Career Grant research into malaria

22 Apr 2022
Mapping NTDs and Malaria on the Bijagos Archipelago of Guinea Bissau, July 2018, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Credit: Thomas Sammut

Ahead of World Malaria Day on Monday 25 April, we have spoken to a number of our Early Career Grant awardees about why they chose to focus on the disease in their Early Career Grant research, and how the grant funding impacted their research careers.

Seasonal malaria prevalence survey following mass drug administration for malaria control as part of a cluster randomised clinical trial

“Malaria killed over 600,000 people in 2020, and a huge threat to malaria control and elimination is the evolution of antimalarial resistance. My research investigates the evolution of resistance using genomic epidemiology in the context of a mass drug administration trial. I chose to focus on this because of the increasingly important role that genomic data has in monitoring the rise of antimalarial resistance.

“The RSTMH grant has enabled me to do fieldwork in the Bijagós Archipelago, Guinea-Bissau, followed by genomic sequencing of the malaria parasite from blood spots collected during this fieldwork. This has given me essential skills in infectious disease fieldwork which I wouldn’t have gained otherwise, and will be of real benefit in my career.”

Sophie Moss
RSTMH Small Grants awardee 2021 (now called Early Career Grant)

Tackling postpartum malaria: Effects of chemoprevention and treatment of pregnant women on parasite reservoir in the maternal and childhood environment 

“Two main reasons have motivated the choice of this important topic: (i) first, postpartum malaria is underestimated even though it constitutes an important public health challenge in endemic areas; (ii) second, to ensure better pregnancy success, I believe it is necessary to better understand the epidemiology of malaria through an in-depth analysis of the bridge between pregnancy and post-partum.

“Receiving this grant constitutes an important milestone in my career. It allows me to be principal investigator, for the first time. Then, preliminary data that will be issued will allow me to be more competitive in the future. Taking together, I think that is a great progress in my young researcher career.”

Ousmane Traore
NIHR/RSTMH Small Grants awardee 2021 (now called Early Career Grant)

The impact of flooding on the spatial epidemiology of malaria: the case of Cyclone Idai in southern Malawi

“One of the first noticeable effects of climate change will arrive in the form of extreme weather events, which will increase the risk of flooding in low-lying areas such as the Shire Valley in Malawi. Yet, we know very little about how extreme weather events will impact malaria distributions across space and time. A recent systematic review by F. Suhr and J.I. Steinert identified only five studies on the effect of flooding on malaria. We need this knowledge to increase the resilience of current health systems and to inform humanitarian responses to flooding. 

“I am trained as an epidemiologist and infectious disease researcher, working on this study helped me gain confidence working within the field of climate science. Winning a small grant also demonstrates that I am capable of conceiving my own projects, which I believe has helped me secure my next job as a post-doctoral researcher working on the effects of climate on health.”

Remy Hoek Spaans
RSTMH Small Grants awardee 2021 (now called Early Career Grant)

Ethnobotanical Survey of Indigenous Anti-malarial Plants in Kwara State, Nigeria and Scientific Validation of Bioactivity

“The biological activity of medicinal plants used, especially in traditional settings, for treatment of various diseases including malaria needs to be validated. Hence, I embarked on this study to document and scientifically authenticate the folkloric use of indigenous plants in malaria treatment in Kwara State, Nigeria. 

“My preliminary ethnobotanical study, which forms part of my Ph.D. programme, has been made considerably easier thanks to the grant.”

Ikponmwosa Evbuomwan
NIHR/RSTMH Small Grants awardee 2021 (now called Early Career Grant)

Investigating malaria, other health challenges, coping strategies and opportunities for a coordinated response for street children in Cameroon

“I chose to work on malaria because it is endemic in my region and a big factor affecting the health and wellbeing of people. I chose to investigate malaria and other health challenges in street children because they are a vulnerable and often neglected group who have several challenges as well as difficulty in accessing medical services when they are sick but somehow they survive. My research seeks to find out the mechanisms behind these and ways to improve their outcomes post-street life.

“The RSTMH grant has given me the possibility to carry out this research on street children which is close to my heart. Without this grant, I would not have been able to go as in-depth as is now possible with the research. The RSTMH small grant has given me the opportunity to put in place and lead a multidisciplinary research team and that’s essential for advancement in my career.”

Dr Valerie Makoge
NIHR/RSTMH Small Grants awardee 2021 (now called Early Career Grant)

One week left to apply for an RSTMH Early Career Grant

The RSTMH Early Career Grants Programme – formerly called the RSTMH Small Grants Programme – is open for applications. Applicants can apply for a grant of up to £5,000 (GBP) to deliver a project over one year. The projects can be on any topic related to tropical medicine and global health, from across the research spectrum of lab, translation, implementation and policy.

The deadline for the application and both references to be submitted is 17:00 on 29 April 2022. Apply here.